Hay, NSW
In association with Jane Irwin Landscape Architecture
Winner of a two stage national design competition

RAIA National Commercial Award & Colorbond Award 2002
NSW Commendation for Public Building & Colorbond Steel Award 2002
Australian Steel Institute Award 2004

2000 – 2002

Shear Outback is a museum and interpretive centre on the outskirts of Hay in western NSW. It documents and celebrates the role of shearers in Australia's growth and development. The complex includes a new museum and associated facilities, a re-erected 1920's woolshed, gardens, dams, windmill, tanks and levee banks.

The site plan and building design evolved from careful analysis of the landscape, climate and regional precedents as well as the functional requirements of a small museum. The new building is placed near the Sturt Highway, forming a sheltering barrier to traffic noise. Two long earth berms engage the building and landscape, overlapping to define the entrance and form an edge to a lush garden which will grow over time into a shady retreat, reminiscent of the formal gardens of an old homestead.

The former Murray Downs woolshed has been re-erected at a distance from the new building so that it is seen as an object in its own right, displayed against the broad horizon.

The new building is composed of sloping planes that define the major spaces and punch skywards to make a dramatic silhouette. The fully conditioned museum is complemented by more economical spaces with natural ventilation and evaporative cooling. Tall steel blade walls shelter the Hall of Fame, a robust space that evokes the character of the great woolsheds. Heat extractor boxes above harness the stack effect to draw air through the building. A low cantilevered verandah runs the length of the building, forming a contrasting space to frame the horizon and contain the never ending sky of the Hay plain.